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Bad Start for the 2012 Summer Olympics?

By Edited Apr 22, 2014 0 4

Before it even started, the 2012 Summer Olympics wass already the target of criticism and controversies. Exaggeration by the media trying to make a fuss around the event or genuine problems? Let's come back to some of those controversies.

London Olympics logo

2012 London Olympics logo

Security Issues

One of the first problem faced by the Olympic was about security.

The private security firm G4S that was expected to provide more than 10,000 security personnel for the event, recently revealed that they would be unable to meet this number. 

The Ministry of Defense announced that up to 3,500 British Army soldiers would make up shortfalls in the number of trained security guards. 

However, the number of security personnel is not the only thing that was criticized. Rumors say that the security personnel are too young, inadequately trained, and some not even able to speak adequate English.

Flag confusion and flag controversy

South Korea flag

Flag of South Korea

Before the start of the qualification match between North Korea and Colombia, the flag of South Korea was used instead of the one of North Korea. Knowing the tension between both countries, this was clearly a mistake to avoid. 

North Korea flag

Flag of North Korea

The match started about an hour later, when the flag was corrected. The London Organising Committee apologise to the team and to the North Korean Olympic Committee.

Taiwan flag

Flag of Taiwan (Republic of China)

Another flag controvery happened when the Regent Street Association replaced the national Taiwanese flag by the Chinese Taipei Olympic flag (flag imposed by the Mainland China).

Chinese Taipei flag

Flag of Chinese Taipei (Olympics)

Sponsorship for Food and Drink

The Olympics have also been criticized for the choice of some major sponsors such as Coca-Cola, MacDonald's and Heineken because the food/drink provided by these companies are unhealthy, thus going against the principle of sports/athletes/healthy body, etc...

Coca-Cola, MacDonald's and the Olympics

Coca-Cola glass with the Olympics logo, obtained at MacDonald's

The following can be found on Wikipedia: "McDonald's hold sole rights to sell chips throughout the games, preventing independent food outlets from serving chips with any meal, although an exception was negotiated with McDonald's to allow the sale of traditional British fish and chips. Food sellers must also comply with food outlet specifications which require prominent display of Coca-Cola branding with limited space for their own products.". 

Athletes right to free speech?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has finally been blamed for going against Athletes right to free speech by publishing some social media guidelines prohibiting athletes from posting on twitter a couple of things such as commenting on other participants, posting pictures of other athletes without their permission, promoting their own sponsors, and using the Olympic rings. 

Twitter logo(107229)

Twitter, main social media of the debate

Is it the IOC duty to regulate what athletes can and cannot post on their twitter account?Pictures of other athletes or using Olympic rights may be understood as copyright ingrigement but commenting on other participants? Promoting their own sponsors? Has the twitter of the athletes become the property of the IOC?

The IOC has even created a website to allow people to report guidelines breaches and went as far as expelling the Greek triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou for a racist message she posted on Twitter.



I will let the readers decide whether they find those critics legitimate or not.

Personally, I believe the British Army will do a great job, that mistakes happen, even when they are unfortunate (South Korea flag confusion) and that debates such as China/Taiwan are difficult to handle by an international organization that tries to conciliate everyone. 

I am more concerned about the "junk food" and the social media control. I do condemn racism but taking control of what people are allowed or not to post reminds too much of dictatorships.

I still wish the best to the 2012 London Olympics and hope to see great achievements. Let the games begin!



Jul 28, 2012 2:46pm
I fear I must correct you on something regarding the sponsorship of the Olympics.

Although McDonalds has a blanket "cartel" on the sale of chips as a stand alone product, other food outlets within the London Olympic Village are permitted to do so as an accompaniment. One example is that the on-site fish and chip sellers can only sell chips with a piece of battered fish (for example); which when you add it to rules like "maximum of 100mls of liquid through the security checks" makes the public perception of the Olympics more commercial.
Jul 28, 2012 3:48pm
Thanks a lot for your comment. I indeed skipped some details about the chips and just mentioned the general rule. As I can now clearly see it was a mistake from me, I will rectify this immediately.
Jul 28, 2012 7:05pm
I had no idea about the sponsorship rules. Yes, that and the policing of Twitter posts is too much. Good article
Jul 29, 2012 2:14am
Thanks for your comment.
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